WHO knew that Jean Pim was a champion water skier in her younger days? This was one of the surprise revelations at a beautiful thanksgiving service held last Saturday, after Jean had been laid to rest in the Quaker sleeping ground at Rosenallis, beside her beloved husband David, who died in 2010.

Friends gathered from far and near to pay tribute to a beautiful lady, and how apt it was that on a bright, sunny day, the birdsong provided a chorus of music to accompany Jean on her final journey. The simplicity, honesty and warmth of the Quaker service was a fitting farewell to someone who lived and loved life to the full.

It is impossible to sum Jean up in just a few words. I first met Jean, and what was to become my Ballsbridge Sales family, in June 1976; Friday, the 25th to be exact. David was one of the founding auctioneers at the sales company, later to become Tattersalls Ireland, and it was on the occasion of the second staging of the Derby Sale.

It was the first day of my working life, straight out of school, and this raw, shy youth was pitched into a team that was led by Michael Opperman. Anyone who worked there roped in their loved ones to assist on sales days, and lasting friendships were born. Many of that team were in Rosenallis to bid farewell to Jean.

Two members of that original family are worthy of special mention; Fanny O’Rourke and Madeleine Hillman.

Their husbands, Willie and Michael, played pivotal roles in the development of the sales company, while Fanny, Madeleine and Jean formed a friendship that was only fractured when Jean died last Thursday week. That bond, along with many others she formed, was one of the great qualities that Jean possessed. Her friendship was steadfast and true.

Jean was strong, someone who faced difficulties and found a way to overcome them. She inspired loyalty, was very supportive and encouraging, and there is no better example of that than the respect and fondness she had from young people. William Micklem said that Jean was an exceptional chef d’équipe of the junior and young riders teams, and no wonder.

Firm, fair and fun, Jean always got the best out of young people, and it says so much that they formed lasting friendships with her.

Jean and Fanny O’Rourke were, for many years, the welcoming faces for everyone attending the sales at Fairyhouse. Everyone knew them, and they knew everyone. Their value was incalculable. What a pity that Jean will miss being present physically at the upcoming 50th anniversary celebrations of the Derby Sale, but I can assure you that her name will be on everyone’s lips.

For many years, Jean and David played host to parties at Anngrove for the Ballsbridge Sales team, and what wonderful memories I and many others have of those times. They were perfect hosts, always making people feel at ease. Jean had an interest in everyone she met, always asking questions, and forever remembering what you told her.

Josh Pim on Mr Otto, owned by his grandmother Jean, winning the CNCP** at Ballindenisk \ Gabbi Prescott Brooks

Jean’s family were everything to her, as she was to them. On any visit, she could tell you where every one of her grandchildren were, what they were doing, and more. She had a natural curiosity, and she loved finding out about anything that was going on.

To her children Alastair, Christopher and Ruthie, I can sincerely say to you that there was no prouder mother than Jean. The same sentiment applies to her grandchildren, and she was so, so pleased to be a great-grandmother. One family member who warrants special commendation is Jean’s daughter-in-law, Gillian. Living so close led to her proving to be an exceptional asset for Jean. They had a special bond. That said, she loved all her family equally.

I trawled through the replies posted after I paid tribute on social media to Jean, who loved her Facebook account, and the following words came up time and time again. Wonderful, amazing, welcoming, helpful, beautiful, a gem, vibrant, elegant, incredible, friendly, a legend, witty, remarkable, lovely, a mover and shaker, and much more.

Grania Willis said: “Sleep well lovely Jean. You were, and still are, a very special soul.”

I couldn’t put it any better. I and many people, especially her beautiful family, will miss Jean greatly, but we will never, ever forget her.

Rest in peace dearest Jean.